O'Sullivan Supporter Calls for School Board Resignations - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/15/04

O'Sullivan Supporter Calls for School Board Resignations

Johnson High principal Gary Lackey. Johnson High principal Gary Lackey.

Last week, Savannah-Chatham County school superintendent Col. John O'Sullivan was forced to resign. Today, his supporters are behind him and calling out the school board.

The colonel carefully gave his thoughts on how this mutual parting of the ways unfolded. But at least one of his supporters has thrown caution to the wind, writing this letter, very critical of the school board and demanding they resign.

"I didn't resign," O'Sullivan told us today. "It was a was a mutual parting of the ways. To be honest, I would not have resigned."

O'Sullivan calls his sudden departure sad. He took the head job in the school district with high hopes, and a specific mission. "In every area they asked for improvement, there was change and in very large measure."

From staff morale to student performance levels, O'Sullivan was excited about the future. Some say the final nail in O'Sullivan's coffin was the SACS investigation resulting in three school board members found in violation and the school system placed on probation.

"I knew it was going to happen," said O'Sullivan.

After 29 years in the school district, 14 as principal of Johnson High School, Gary Lackey has seen many superintendents come and go. "I would rather see him stay and they go. Here we go again."

He heard the whispers about change. "When school board talks about change in the district, they're talking about firing a superintendent."

And he was right. Lackey wrote up a letter to parents and educators, defending O'Sullivan, even calling for the resignation of school board members. "It's very frustrating," he said. "It's a big loss. He's a good man and a good educator."

"I regret I didn't finish the job," said O'Sullivan.

Three years, three satisfactory evaluations, and three pay raises--one as recent as September--and still, Col. John O'Sullivan is out of his job, and most likely out of Savannah. "It's a place of beauty and culture, but it's also a place of great sadness for me and my wife right now, so, I can't stay here."

Gary Lackey is pushing for a recall of the board of education and O'Sullivan's reinstatement. Col. O'Sullivan doesn't envision a return to his old job, but he also say never say never.

As we reported last week, deputy superintendent George Bowen has stepped in until a new superintendent is hired.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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